Recordings of Convocations
- Created 1 November 2013; Published 27 March 2014Convocation: Matt Ginsberg
As co-founder and CEO of On Time Systems Inc., Matt Ginsberg has helped develop computer programs to build U.S. Navy ships more efficiently and to find the most-fuel-saving routes for U.S. Air Force noncombat flights. The company’s "Green Driver" app uses data from a city’s traffic signalsto help guide drivers on a route with the fewest red lights, saving time and fuel.
Some of the statistical techniques in this work are also handy, it turns out, for solving crossword puzzles. Ginsberg has created more than 30 crossword puzzles for The New York Times, and with his expertise in artificial intelligence created Dr. Fill, a crossword solving computer program. Ginsberg is also the author of the world’s first expert-level bridge-playing program.
While Ginsberg and On Time Systems Inc. seek to use technology to make the world a better place, the real life lesson is that just because you can build a better mousetrap doesn't mean it will be accepted. The title of his presentation is "Of Mousetraps and Men: A Cautionary Tale."
- Created 25 October 2013; Published 15 November 2013Convocation: Angela "Bay" Buchanan
Angela "Bay" Buchanan's distinguished political career began when she was appointed Treasurer of the United States in 1981. At the age of 32, she was the youngest person to hold that position since it was established in 1775. Buchanan has served as chair of Team America, a political action committee devoted to border security and immigration reform. She also served as senior advisor to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign and is currently president of The American Cause, an educational foundation dedicated to advancing traditional conservative issues.
Buchanan has co-anchored "Equal Time," a political talk show initially on CNBC, then MSNBC, and served as a political analyst for "Good Morning America." After appearing regularly on CNN's "Inside Politics," she became a commentator for CNN's "The Situation Room."
Buchanan has examined the history of immigration to the United States, the dramatic changes in the last thirty years, and the consequences of those changes. She will discuss the political debate surrounding this issue today, the players on each side, and the differing proposals being offered, to bring sense to an immigration policy that she believes doesn’t work from anyone's perspective. The title of her presentation is "U.S. Immigration: The History and the Consequences."
- Created 18 October 2013; Published 15 November 2013Convocation: Bob Daily
Award-winning television writer and producer Bob Daily ’82 discusses his journey from Carleton to Hollywood—a path that took him from the Nourse Little Theater to the stages of "Frasier" and "Desperate Housewives," with stops along the way at a Texas comedy club, Spy magazine, the Nickelodeon cartoon "Rugrats," and an Elvis impersonator convention.
An English major at Carleton, Daily is currently developing new television series for CBS. He recently ended a six-year stint as executive producer and head writer for the hit ABC series "Desperate Housewives," where he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. He also spent five seasons as a writer and producer at NBC’s "Frasier," writing fifteen episodes (one of which was included in the book The Very Best of Frasier). At "Frasier" he won two consecutive Writers Guild of America Awards in the category of "Outstanding Script—Television Comedy," and was nominated for an Emmy.
Daily began his career as a journalist in Chicago, and has published six books for children. His biography Elvis Presley was named one of the year’s best books for young readers by the New York Public Library. The title of his presentation is "Adventures in Television: My Journey From Carleton to Hollywood (with Cameo Appearances by Elvis and Schiller)."
- Created 11 October 2013; Published 15 November 2013Convocation: Leo Chavez
Leo Chavez presents an anthropological view of immigration, offering an analysis of myths vs. facts, as well as representations and misrepresentations of Latinos in the media. A professor of anthropology at the University of California Irvine, Chavez’s research examines various issues related to transnational migration, including immigrant families and households, labor market participation, motivations for migration, the use of medical services, and media constructions of "immigrant" and "nation."
His books include Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society, which provides an ethnographic account of Mexican and Central American undocumented immigrants in San Diego County, California. Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation examines representations of immigrants in the media and popular discourse in the United States through the lens of magazine covers and their related articles. His newest book is The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens and the Nation, which examines issues of anti-Latino discourse, struggles over the meaning of citizenship, and the role of media spectacles in society in relation to the politics of reproduction, organ transplants, the Minuteman Project, and immigrant marches and protests. The title of his presentation is "Latinos and Immigration Reform."
- Created 4 October 2013; Published 15 November 2013Convocation: Martha Nussbaum
Renowned scholar Martha Nussbaum has contributed to important contemporary conversations in the areas of feminism, international policy, global justice, animal rights and the humanities. Through the lens of philosophy, she has studied issues of moral inquiry and insight, examined questions of social justice and the ethics of development, with particular reference to the role of women in society, and presented an ambitious theory of the emotions.
As professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, Nussbaum holds appointments in the philosophy department, law school and divinity school. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Nussbaum is the author of several books and the recipient of multiple honorary degrees from colleges and universities in North America, Asia, and Europe.
- Created 27 September 2013; Published 26 March 2014Convocation: Todd Drezner ’94
Todd Drezner ’94 has recently directed his first documentary film, "Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic," and he is also the father of Sam, a child with autism. The title of the film refers to the circuit of lampposts that Drezner’s son likes to visit in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York. What would you call a four year old who caresses all the lampposts in the park? Quirky? Unusual? Or sick? Such labels are at the center of the debate about autism: Is it a disease or a different way of being—or both?
Motivated by his son's diagnosis, Drezner explores this debate through his film with the parents, doctors, therapists, and people with autism who are redefining the changing world of autism. "Loving Lampposts" received the Best Feature Documentary award at the 2011 Peace On Earth Film Festival. Drezner earned his MFA in Film from Columbia University and is the editor of several award-winning documentary films and commercials.
- Created 16 September 2013; Published 26 March 2014Opening Convocation: Jonathan Capehart '89
Carleton’s Opening Convocation is an annual all-college assembly celebrating the beginning of the academic year and recognizing academic achievement. This year’s address will be given by Jonathan Capehart (Carleton Class of 1989).
Some days in Washington DC, Jonathan Capehart appears to be everywhere. There's his editorial in the day's Washington Post, several appearances throughout the day on MSNBC, and a few media-centric parties at night.
After growing up in New Jersey, Capehart went on to study political science at Carleton, where he took a few classes taught by the late Senator Paul Wellstone. His career started out at NBC’s Today show, but in 1993 he joined the editorial board of the New York Daily News (at the time, the youngest-ever member), spending the rest of the decade at that newspaper. Capehart and the Daily News editorial board won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for their series on the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
In 2000, he left the Daily News to become a national affairs columnist for Bloomberg News and then worked as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his successful campaign for mayor of New York City. But on the morning of September 11, 2001, Capehart realized he wanted to return to journalism and even called his previous employer to ask about writing a column. Before too long, he had returned to the New York Daily News as deputy editorial page editor. Capehart is currently a member of the Washington Post editorial board where he writes about politics and social issues.
- Created 31 May 2013; Published 15 November 2013Honors Convocation: Kai Knutson '11
The Honors Convocation is held each year on the last Friday of spring term, drawing the campus community together to celebrate the awards and academic accomplishments of our students. This year’s address will be delivered by Kai Knutson, who graduated from Carleton College in 2011 with a B.A. in biology. In his junior year, Knutson was awarded the Larson International Fellowship, which provides a significant international experience for students with strong leadership potential. In his senior year, he was awarded the prestigious Watson Fellowship, which affords an opportunity to pursue a unique passion or dream for a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. The Watson Foundation looks for persons likely to lead or innovate in the future – passionate learners, creative thinkers, and motivated self-starters who are encouraged to dream big but demonstrate feasible strategies for achieving their fellowship goals. In his address Knutson will highlight the impact of these awards on his education and his career trajectory.
- Created 17 May 2013; Published 21 May 2013Convocation: Randy Cohen
Every week for over a decade in his column on ethics, Randy Cohen took on conundrums presented in letters from perplexed people who wanted to do the right thing (or hope to get away with doing the wrong thing), and responded with a skillful blend of moral authority and humor. The wisdom and witticisms of the man behind the New York Times Magazine’s immensely popular column "The Ethicist" have been gathered in his book The Good, the Bad & The Difference – regarded as a combination of "Dear Abby," Plato, and Mel Brooks. Cohen has also won four Emmy awards, three as a writer for Late Night with David Letterman. He was the original head writer on The Rosie O’Donnell Show and has been a guest on Good Morning America. His work has also appeared in Slate magazine, The New Yorker, The Washington Post and other publications. Cohen explores the question: If we can reach a rough consensus on right and wrong (don't like, don't cheat, don't steal), why don't we all behave virtuously? Suggesting the answer lies not in our characters but our circumstances, Cohen discusses how to create the kind of communities – in our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses – in which we are likely to behave admirably. The title of his presentation is "How To Be Good."
- Created 10 May 2013; Published 16 May 2013Convocation: Bob Beckel & Cal Thomas
Based on their successful USA Today column "Common Ground," political speakers Bob Beckel, a liberal Democratic strategist, and Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist, take on the contentious issues that divide the nation along partisan lines. Whether taking on the Tea Party, unions, health care, or regulatory issues, Beckel and Thomas cut through the bickering and get to the heart of what really matters. Moving away from the archaic crossfire format, Beckel and Thomas find shared beliefs that both liberals and conservatives can agree upon. More like a conversation between friends than debate between enemies, they inspire audiences to find the common ground in their own beliefs, and put aside politics as usual. Emphasizing bipartisan cooperation and a commitment to ending cross-aisle political conflict, they seek a common ground that can end the stalemate in Washington. Their book, Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America is a discussion of how liberals and conservatives can work together to put America back on track.
- Created 3 May 2013; Published 16 May 2013Convocation: Jeff Chang
Jeff Chang, born of Chinese and Native Hawaiian ancestry, is a journalist who has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts, and music. He was a founding editor of ColorLines magazine and has written for The Nation, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Vibe, Foreign Policy, and Mother Jones, among others. He has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and a winner of the North Star News Prize. His first book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, a thoroughly researched case for hip-hop as a complete and truly American culture, garnered many honors, including the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. He was named by The Utne Reader as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” Chang, who has also worked as a community, labor and student organizer, and as a lobbyist for students of the California State University system, is currently the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. The title of his presentation is "Who We Be: The Colorization of America." This Asian Pacific American Heritage Convocation is sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life.
- Created 25 April 2013; Published 27 April 2013Convocation: Emily Schultz '05
Emily Schultz ’05 has worked under some controversial regimes in high-profile efforts to turn around failing schools. In the fall of 2011 she was appointed the education policy director for the State of Alabama, a new position created by Governor Robert Bentley who said he needed an education expert on his staff to guide him and to be a liaison to K-12, post-secondary and higher education. Previously, Schultz worked under Michelle Rhee, who became chancellor of Washington D.C. public schools after the mayor took control of the district – a situation in which nearly two dozen schools were closed, the teacher pay scale was changed and hundreds of teachers, principals and administrators were fired. After the Washington job, Schultz worked as a consultant in Central Falls, Rhode Island, which made headlines in February 2010 when it fired all the teachers at a failing high school. The consulting group Schultz worked for, Mass Insight School Turnaround Group, went in after the mass firings to restructure the district. Governor Bentley said that Schultz’s experience in turning around failing schools and her "outside the box" mentality is exactly why he hired her.
- Created 19 April 2013; Published 27 April 2013Convocation: Sarah Kay
Sarah Kay, known for her spoken word poetry, is the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E., a group dedicated to using spoken word as an inspirational tool. A graduate of Brown University, Kay began performing poetry at the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan’s East Village at the age of 14. She was the youngest person competing in the National Poetry Slam that year, and the next year made her television debut performing on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She has performed at events and venues such as the Lincoln Center, the Tribecca Film Festival, the United Nations, and a widely acclaimed talk and performance at the 2011 TED Conference. Teaching poetry and self-expression at schools across the United States, Kay founded Project V.O.I.C.E. (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression) to encourage people, particularly teenagers, to use spoken word as an instrument through which they can explore and better understand their culture, their society, and ultimately themselves. V.O.I.C.E. brings together performance, writing, and a supportive environment to inspire youth to recognize that their views are significant, valid, and necessary. Kay shows how this ancient art form has been reborn in an era dominated by social media in her presentation titled "The Art of Storytelling in a Digital World."
- Created 12 April 2013; Published 15 April 2013Convocation: Zalmay Khalilzad
Zalmay Khalilzad served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. He has been involved with U.S. policy makers at the White House, State Department and Pentagon since the mid-1980s, and is the highest-ranking Muslim in U.S. Government in the history of the United States. Praised for his inclusive tactics, convivial style, and result oriented approach, Khalilzad’s record in the most turbulent areas of U.S. foreign policy earned him broad respect throughout the world. Khalilzad’s previous assignments included U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, wher he played a significant role in facilitating both countries’ constitutions, elections and formation of government. He is currently a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and president of Khalilzad Associates, an international business consulting firm based in Washington D.C. His first-hand knowledge and experience as a statesman in the world’s important hotspots give him unparalleled insights into the global issues of security, terror, extremism, state building, peace negotiation, and energy. Ambassador Khalilzad assesses the challenges the United States faces in the changing global landscape and their implications for the American people and effective U.S. strategy for the future in his presentation titled "U.S. Global Leadership."
- Created 5 April 2013; Published 9 April 2013Convocation: K. David Harrison
K. David Harrison is an authority on endangered and dying languages with particular interest in connections between language and biodiversity, ethnoecology, and cultural survival. Approximately half of the world’s 7,000 languages are predicted to go extinct in this century, and language death leads to intellectual impoverishment in all fields of science and culture. An associate professor and the chair of the linguistics department at Swarthmore, Harrison is also a fellow at the National Geographic Society and Director of Research at the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, whose mission is to use multi-media projects to document, preserve, and revitalize endangered and little-documented languages. Harrison’s work involves living in the communities whose languages he is helping to document. He adopts the position that languages exist solely within a cultural matrix, and must be studied holistically and in their natural context. This means that in addition to studying abstract structures in the mind (e.g., vowel harmony), he is keenly interested in what people have to say and how languages shape the structure of human knowledge. His ethnographic research looks at indigenous knowledge, folklore, oral epics, conceptual systems, and naming practices. The title of his presentation is "Endangered Languages."